Christian Horner claims Honda has provided Red Bull with the best engine installation it has ever had in Formula 1, branding its new power unit as a “thing of beauty”. 

The Milton Keynes-based squad opted to switch from Renault to Honda engines over the winter in a bid to close the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari and return Red Bull to a position in which it can challenge for world championships. 

Max Verstappen enjoyed a productive opening day of pre-season testing at Barcelona as he completed 128 laps and finished fourth in the timesheets in his Honda-powered RB15. 

Max Verstappen F1 Driver Profile 2018

“Ultimately power is a dominating factor but I have to say that the installation of this engine into the chassis is probably the best one we have ever had," said Horner.

"When you look how neatly integrated it is into the chassis, it really is a thing of beauty. The whole engineering team collectively with Honda have done a great job in terms of installing what looks like a Swiss clock into the back of our chassis.”

Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost had earlier said that he felt Red Bull will definitely win races in 2019 after the "big step forward" made by Honda over the winter. 

Asked if he shared Tost’s optimism, Horner replied: “It is great to have that enthusiasm and optimism that Franz has shown and we are excited to be working with Honda in what is a true partnership, as opposed to a customer-supplier relationship. We are already feeling the benefits of that.

“It is not going to be a fast process, there is no silver bullet, and I think as the organisations learn more about each other and their strengths and relative weaknesses, it is something that will grow over a period of time but we are not putting any timescale on that.”

Horner said he was particularly impressed by the speed of Honda’s work to get its power units ready in time for pre-season testing, suggesting the process was smoother than with Red Bull’s former engine supplier Renault. 

"We saw with Toro Rosso last year that great progress was made and of course our decision was based on what we could see and measure,” he explained. 

"I have to say, from what we’ve seen so far, it is very impressive. It is the first time in 12 years that our factory has had four complete engines in it. That's not happened before."